Landmark suspends sale

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Landmark Media Enterprises, the parent company of The Sentinel News, announced today that it is “largely suspending the process to sell its remaining business.”

In a press release, Frank Batten Jr., Landmark’s Chairman and CEO, said the sale has been suspended because the current credit crisis has “made it virtually impossible for companies to obtain bank commitments to help finance acquisitions.”

Batten said the recession has reduced revenue and earnings and made it very difficult to value businesses. As a result, he said the company has decided to “largely suspend the sale process.”

The company, which owns several media groups, TV stations, interactive businesses, and newspapers, started looking for a buyer in January.

Landmark sold its largest company, The Weather Channel, to NBC Universal in September for $3.1 billion.

Along with the credit crunch, the economic downturn has also caused stock in businesses to drastically depreciate.

Batten said if the business is sold now it would be sold for less than it is worth.

“We are proud of our businesses and confident about their future – and will not sell them at a time of uncertainty and depressed values.”

Batten said that Landmark would operate its businesses for several years before reinstituting the sale process. It will, however, consider offers during the interim.

The Landmark businesses are Dominion Enterprises, The Virginia-Pilot Media Companies, and local newspapers elsewhere in the U.S.

The decision to pull the company off the market was followed by a chain of changes in Landmark’s senior management.

Decker Anstrom, Landmark’s President and Chief Operating Officer, is retiring at the end of the year, and Bruce Bradley, President of the Landmark Publishing Group, is retiring in mid-November.

Michael Abernathy, President of Landmark Community Newspapers in Shelbyville, will assume the additional role of President of Landmark Publishing Group, succeeding Bradley.